Superhero stories are everywhere, but Veep creator Armando Iannucci is looking to explore superhero movie-making itself with a new pilot for HBO. The network has ordered the pilot for The Franchise, a comedy about the difficulties of maintaining a long-running superhero franchise like the MCU. To help bring his vision to life, he’s tapped a heavyweight Oscar winner fresh off of completing his latest film Empire of Light – Sam Mendes.
The Franchise looks to deconstruct the art of superhero filmmaking, centering on “a hopeful crew trapped inside the dysfunctional, nonsensical, joyous hellscape of franchise superhero movie-making. If and when they finally make the day, the question they must face — is this Hollywood’s new dawn or cinema’s last stand? Is this a dream factory or a chemical plant?” It’s a half-hour pilot with the story penned by Iannucci along with his old Veep and Avenue 5 colleague Jon Brown (Succession) and Keith Akushie (Siblings). Brown and Akushie will also write the pilot itself with Marina Hyde also boarding as an additional writer.
In addition to writing, Brown will also serve as the showrunner and as an executive producer alongside Akushie, Hyde, Iannucci through Dundee Productions, and Mendes through Neal Street Productions. A number of Mendes‘ Neal Street colleagues will be aboard the film as executive producers as well, including Pippa Harris, Nicolas Brown, and Julie Pastor.
Iannucci and HBO are practically tied at the hip following the success of his hit show Veep, itself based on his previous British series The Thick of It, for several years on the premium network. During its run, the show was an awards season juggernaut alongside an audience hit, scoring a whopping 17 Emmy wins throughout its run. His follow-up, Avenue 5, has not enjoyed the same success, however. While reviews were decently positive with an all-star lineup featuring Hugh Laurie and Josh Gad, its second season is likely to be its last after the cast was released from their contracts. He has a history of success though, also directing the films In the Loop and The Death of Stalin.
Mendes, meanwhile, will make his television directing debut with The Franchise‘s pilot, but he brings quite the filmmaking pedigree to the project. He owns one Oscar nod for American Beauty, but he has a number of prominent titles under his belt including the more recent 1917 and a pair of James Bond films in Skyfall and Spectre. He’s not entirely unfamiliar with television, however, serving as an executive producer for the Penny Dreadful franchise and Britannia among others. His next film, Empire of Light, will reach theaters later this year on December 9.
Stay tuned here at Collider for more on The Franchise as production gets underway.